I met Andrea my first day at the Prevention Center and since, she’s always been a bit of a lifeline for me (really, for everyone) because she knows everything that’s going on. If you have a question, she has the answer. From the start I was impressed by how superb she is at her job. Then I got to know her a bit better. Andrea’s one of those people that each time you learn more about her you’re both surprised and impressed. First you find out she’s an exercise instructor on the side, then you learn she wields a law degree, then she school’s you on hot sauce — this southerner knows her hot sauces and is seldom without her favorite, Crystal. Allow me to introduce you to Andrea Rush.
Q: Tell me about your life.
A: I grew up in the deep South in a single parent household, so a lot of the work we do at the Center resonates with my own upbringing. I recognize now that my mother and I had strong protective factors, despite some of our risk factors.
I danced competitively growing up and through college and even law school. Along with a focus on academics, dance has been a constant in my life. Having grown up and lived in the same house and town for my first 18 years, I yearned to see the world and live in different places: I’ve lived in North Carolina, Italy, Queens, N.Y., New Orleans, Daly City, Calif. and now Oakland, Calif. I have an amazing partner whom I’ve known since freshman year of college and dated for almost eight years. I feel invigorated by that love and commitment in my life as well as the friendships that I’ve had over the years and across the globe.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
A: Racial equality and justice, movement / exercise, discovery and learning-culture, landscape, food, and good / interesting people.
Q: You’re a lawyer by trade, but not in practice, why?
A: I went to law school thinking that was the way I would change the world by helping clients like I had seen those close to me be helped by their own attorneys. I focused on international and comparative law, which is still fascinating to me but in practice did not seem realistic for my personal circumstances. I also realized there were other ways to change the world — like working in the social sector! I have the degree and know it is always a card I can play in my back pocket if I ever want to try that route of changing the world.
Q: Why did you come to join the Prevention Center team?
A: Relatively new to the Bay Area, I was looking specifically for roles in the social sector and learned about the ProInspire Fellowship, which pairs young professionals with organizations in the social sector, through a fellow Duke alumna who was a also a fellow. She encouraged me to apply, and a few months later I was matched with the Prevention Center.
Q: What’s a typical workday like for you?
A: It honestly varies. Most days, I spend the majority of my time on email. I also attend a lot of meetings and conference calls related to the Board of Directors as well as various projects that I am working on internally or externally. I also help draft documents and presentations for the Executive Director and Board.
Q: You work closely with the Executive Director Katie Albright, what’s that like?
A: It has been an incredible learning experience. Katie is a very thoughtful and intelligent Executive Director, who often spends time really considering what the best solution is to any problem. We’re in constant communication and work really well together. Katie has an incredibly hard and rewarding job as Executive Director. I see first-hand the many demands on her time and energy. Her stamina and work ethic are unparalleled; she gives everything she has to this organization.
Q: You moonlight as a exercise instructor, how’d that come about?
A: I was actually teaching group fitness classes at a boutique studio in San Francisco a few months after moving to the Bay Area and prior to getting placed at the Prevention Center as a fellow. I honestly answered a Craigslist ad, went through a rigorous interview process and ended up teaching classes at this studio for almost a year and a half. I am now a nationally certified instructor and teach in Oakland at a few studios.
Q: How would you describe your personal mission?
A: To be happy and content with the life I live, while learning and growing; to live with a childlike wonder for the simple joys of life; and to never stop learning.
Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?
A: See the U.N.’s goal of outlawing inter and intra state conflict come true in practice. With this would come a dismantling of racial and ethnic inequalities worldwide and so often foster hatred, bigotry, genocide, and war — and all the horrible injustices that come with those, like child abuse.
Q: What makes you hopeful / happy?
A: 1) Interpersonal interactions with “the other” — people interacting with people from a group that they view as different and coming to realize that we are all living through a shared human experience.
2) Human resiliency and community — like I saw from the people of New Orleans to rebuild their city and come back stronger after Katrina.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?
A: I’ll slightly deflect — my favorite thing about the Bay Area is the rich diversity of Oakland in its communities and it natural landscape.